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The Time an Artist Sold His Own Excrement for the Price of Gold

The edgy, counterculture card game Cards Against Humanity made a statement about our consumer culture and the Black Friday craze by selling boxes of "bullshit," labeled as such, on their website the day after Thanksgiving. They sold 30,000 boxes of actual animal waste in under two hours.

Well played, Cards Against Humanity, but you're not the first to see the potential for a profound prank in feces.

In May 1961, Italian artist Piero Manzoni produced ninety cans of Merda d’artista, or Artist's Shit, each carefully labeled and numbered. It was said to be a reaction to the fact that his father once told him, "Your work is shit," but this wasn't the first time Manzoni played the value of his own bodily productions—he'd also sold balloons filled with his own breath.

Originally, each tin was priced to be worth its weight in gold, $37 in 1961. But over the years the value of these closed tins has only increased. In 2000, Sotheby’s auctioned one for $67,000, and although the price per ounce of gold had been subject to inflation, if the tins stayed level with gold's market price it should have cost only $395.77. Almost 30 years of aging saw the smelly contents increase in value faster than gold by almost 70-fold.

Unlike Cards Against Humanity—which sourced good old fashion pasteurized bull feces for their stunt—Manzoni's tins might not be the real deal. In 2007, one of Manzoni's collaborators, Agostino Bonalumi, said that the tins contained not actual human excrement but rather plain old plaster.

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Dan Bell
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Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

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iStock
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Art
The Simple Optical Illusion That Makes an Image Look Like It's Drawing Itself
iStock
iStock

Artist James Nolan Gandy invents robot arms that sketch intricate mathematical shapes with pen and paper. When viewed in real time, the effect is impressive. But it becomes even more so when the videos are sped up in a timelapse. If you look closely in the video below, the illustration appears to materialize faster than the robot can put the design to paper. Gizmodo recently explained how the illusion works to make it look like parts of the sketch are forming before the machine has time to draw them.

The optical illusion isn’t an example of tricky image editing: It’s the result of something called the wagon wheel effect. You can observe this in a car wheel accelerating down the highway or in propeller blades lifting up a helicopter. If an object makes enough rotations per second, it can appear to slow down, move backwards, or even stand still.

This is especially apparent on film. Every “moving image” we see on a screen is an illusion caused by the brain filling in the gaps between a sequence of still images. In the case of the timelapse video below, the camera captured the right amount of images, in the right order, to depict the pen as moving more slowly than it did in real life. But unlike the pen, the drawing formed throughout the video isn't subject to the wagon-wheel effect, so it still appears to move at full speed. This difference makes it look like the sketch is drawing itself, no pen required.

Gandy frequently shares behind-the-scenes videos of his mechanical art on his Instagram page. You can check out some of his non-timelapse clips like the one below to better understand how his machines work, then visit his website to browse and purchase the art made by his 'bots.

And if you think his stuff is impressive, make sure to explore some of the incredible art robots have made in the past.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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